If you are planning to buy a new diesel-powered
boat this spring that has ZF marine gears you can have it fitted with ZF’s new Joystick
Maneuvering System (JMS). Already Viking, Tiara, and MasterCraft are offering the
system on some of their models. New boats at dealerships or in process at the factory
can have the JMS installed or retro-fitted, according to a ZF spokesman this week.
Moreover we’re told that ZF plans to offer a JMS retrofit for the aftermarket as
early as this fall.
ZF makes the fly-by-wire control systems for all of its transmissions and pod
The new Joystick Maneuvering System (JMS) from ZF Marine is a control system that
provides simple and intuitive boat control that can be matched to all ZF Marine
CAN-based propulsion systems. When interfaced with ZF Marine’s SmartCommand control
system in a twin engine traditional shaft line application and a bow thruster, JMS
can provide the same ease of control expected from azimuth pod drive systems, says
This simple joystick can now be retrofitted to many boats with ZF transmissions.
Maneuvers such as sideways docking, 360-degree spot rotation, and other complicated
or difficult moves become easy operations with the JMS system since it also controls
engine speed and transmission shifting, a ZF spokesman said. “This joystick system
is ideal for people who don’t’ have the comfort level to dock in tight quarters
or in places with cross currents or both,” he said.
Additional features, such as “Hold Heading”, are integrated with an electric compass
and keep the vessel on a specific course, fine tuning the propulsion system to compensate
for wind, current, or other external forces. The “Station Keeping” function, integrated
with a GPS receiver, enables the vessel to remain in an exact position and orientation
with the press of a button. (This is called “Sky Hook” in another system.)
In all, it is possible to install up to six control stations enabling maneuvering
of the boat from any location.
Aftermarket Retrofit Package Coming
ZF makes over 100 models of marine gears handling
engines from 26-hp (model ZF 6M, left), to 4951-hp (model ZF 9351).
This week a spokesman for the company said that this fall ZF plans to have a retrofit
“package” available for the aftermarket. Theoretically, the JMS system could be
installed on virtually any boat with ZF marine gears, but units without trolling
valves, electronic control of both the marine gears and the engines, and a bow thruster
would have to have all of those items retrofit before the SmartCommand is installed.
Clearly, in that case the cost of rehab might not be justified to many boat owners.
Nevertheless, such a retrofit package might have some appeal to people wishing to
sell their old boats by making them an attractive joystick alternative to the competition.
A spokesman for ZF said the JMS with SmartCommand software is written in such a
way that the service personnel will be able to calibrate the system to each individual
boat at the time of installation. “Since the system had to be designed to go into
hundreds of models by dozens of brands,” said the ZF spokesman, “in-the-field calibration
had to be designed into the system from the start.” Given the diversity of parameters
involved, we find this capability remarkable.
As this product develops and more builders take it on as an option we will keep
ZF is involved with marine drive systems at all levels.
ZF might be the biggest company most people have never heard of. Headquartered in
Friedrichshafen, Germany, ZF employs approximately 58,000 people at 119 locations
in 25 countries, and had total sales of $17.3 billion in 2007. (That is about half
the size of the whole U.S. marine industry combined!) ZF Marine LLC is a member
of the ZF Marine Group , headquartered at ZF Padova SpA Italy. ZF Marine offers
complete marine propulsion systems, including transmissions, propellers, control
systems, surface drives, POD drives, and shaft brakes for all types of vessels.
ZF is a leading worldwide supplier of driveline and chassis technology for nearly
If you are interested in a retrofit or would like to know more contact ZF Marine
LLC at 877.896.4040 or visit www.zf-marine.com